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About 275 million years ago Magnetic Island was formed when molten granite was pushed to the earth’s surface with volcanic force. Over time the overlying volcanic rocks have weathered away leaving the underlying granite mass, creating today's incredible landscape of boulders, many of which are larger than a house and perched balancing in amazing ways. Today, a shallow sea separates the island from the mainland. However, before the sea level rose 7,500 years ago, Magnetic Island was connected to the mainland between Cape Pallarenda and Kissing Point. The highest point on the island is Mt Cook, reaching 493km above sea level. 

The Aboriginal Traditional Owners of Yunbenun, as they named it, are the Wulgurukaba people. This means the ‘canoe people’ They have lived on the island and nearby mainland for thousands of years. The Wulgurukaba people maintained their traditional lifestyle here until the mid-1890s when the Townsville port was opened. As more European people moved into the area, the Wulgurukaba people were forced to move off their traditional lands although they remained on the island until the 1920s and 1930’s. Eventually they were forced to live in missions on the mainland. A small group of Wulgurukaba people remain on or have returned to the island.

Magnetic Island or Magnetical Isle was named by Lt James Cook (he was not yet a Captain) in 1770 when he believed the magnetic compass on his ship the Endeavour was affected by the island’s precariously balancing boulders.

This has since been proved incorrect and the compass was affected by deviation not variation.

Magnetic Island is 8 kilometres offshore from the city of Townsville, Queensland, Australia. This 52 km² mountainous island in Cleveland Bay has effectively become a suburb of Townsville, with over 2,300 permanent residents. The island is accessible from Townsville Breakwater to Nelly Bay Harbour by ferry. There is a large 39.5 km² National Park and bird sanctuary and walking tracks can be taken between the populated bays and to a number of tourist destinations such as the World War II forts.

Magnetic Island is home to the largest population of Koalas in Northern Australia, the little Allied Rock Wallabies and the larger Agile Wallabies which can get quite large and often mistaken for Kangaroos. There is an abundance of wildlife, birds, reptiles and flora. On Magnetic Island there is fabulous fishing and snorkelling, bushwalks for all levels of fitness and outstanding views from the lookouts. 

Being fully self-contained, Magnetic Island has many restaurants, cafes and hotels to choose from. 

There are supermarkets, service stations, hire centres, bottle shops, clothing shops, a post office, a chemist and a hardware,

just to name of few of the great services available. 

Fun facts at a glance - 

  • Just 8km from Townsville in Tropical North Queensland

  •  23 beautiful bays and beaches

  • Enjoying over 300 days of sunshine every year with hot humid summers, mild winters and an average temperature of

  • 28 degrees, Magnetic Island is the ideal tropical destination

    • Summer - December to February, temperatures range from 25°C to 30°C 

    • Autumn  - March to May, temperatures range from about 18°C to 30°C 

    • Winter - June to August, temperatures range from 14°C to 25°C 

    • Spring - September to November, temperatures range from 18°C to 30°C 

  • Two thirds of the island is protected National Park

  • Magnetic Island is situated in the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

  • The highest point on the Island is Mount Cook at 493m (1,617 ft.) above sea level

  • The only fully self-contained Island in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

  • Magnetic Island has a resident population of over 2,300

  • Home to Northern Australia’s largest colony of Koalas living in the wild.

  • November to May is stinger season with many marine stingers about including the irukandji and box jellyfish 

- Click here for guides to Magnetic Island, including fishing and snorkelling

- Click here for current conditions on Magnetic Island

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